History at Bessemer
Our history curriculum is creative, practical and supports children to be knowledgeable learners and active communicators.
The history curriculum has historical skills and factual knowledge at its core. It reflects the aims and content of the National Curriculum, at each key stage. This begins in the Early Years with the ‘Understanding the World’ strand of the EYFS framework. We want them to be able to recall this knowledge in order to show understanding of key features of a particular period, while making connections and comparisons between periods of history. Regular opportunities are given to children to revisit previous learning through termly learning reviews and quizzes. Children should build on key skills throughout their time at school, such as asking questions, using evidence to answer questions, and draw conclusions from primary and secondary source material. Throughout the history topics, children should have an understanding of how historians know about and debate the past.
We support understanding of chronology through timelines which are displayed around the school. This supports children to make connections with previous history learning.
Trips, Visits, Workshops and Immersive Experiences in History
We use a variety of trips and visits to enhance and complement history learning at Bessemer. In Year 1 children go on local walks as part of their local history unit, when learning about the 'First Flight' children will visit the Science Museum. Year 2 visit monument as part of 'Great fire of London' and enjoy a workshop.
When exploring changes from the Stone to Iron age, Year 3 visit the amazing Prehistoric village in Hertfordshire, visit the Petrie Museum and enjoy an Ancient Egypt workshop! Year 4 mapped the impact of WW2 on Camberwell and Dulwich and went on a walk to see in person how the area changed as a result of the war.
As part of their Victorians unit, Year 5 attended a workshop run by the National Archives where they used secondary sources to look at Black Victorians. When learning about the Romans, Year 5 enjoyed a visit from Centurion who taught them all about life in Roman times. Year 6 will be visiting the Old Operating Theatre as part of their History of Medicine unit.
Here is just a snippet of some of the things we have been lucky enough to experience!
Time Travellers Club:
'Time Travellers' is an extra-curricular club where children get to explore areas of history that we might not cover across our curriculum as well as enhance areas of history learning that we want to explore further. Learning is child-led with lots of opportunities to pursue own interests in history. Talk, discussion and debate are an important part of our sessions.
Children have lots of opportunity to use the History book library so that they can continue their learning at home.
This term (Autumn 2023), we are lucky enough to be working with local historians to investigate the history of Southwark, where we will handle artefacts and look at a variety of Primary and Secondary sources.
In the past, we have learned about the Indus Valley civilisation, created Victorian thaumatropes, made, created and played our own history quizzes and learned about the history of chocolate!
Developing as historians at Bessemer
Using the national curriculum, as well as what we think are the most relevant topics for our school community, the curriculum at Bessemer travels from prehistoric societies through to the modern age, with many stops along the way. Our ambitious approach to the study of history is underpinned by our school values. Through careful consideration of the interests of our children and the use of local history studies, the objective is to feel more connected to our community both past and present. Our sequence of learning enables our children to gain a coherent understanding of their past, Britain’s past history and that of the world around them. Our curriculum has been designed to ensure that each year, our children broaden their historical knowledge. This enables them to secure a deep understanding of key developments and periods in history whilst exploring it in creative and interactive ways.
Our children are encouraged to question and analyse; to consider the evidence and its source; to think critically and reflect upon the process of change. Special emphasis is placed on the legacy of groups and individuals and the diversity of societies. The goal is for the children to ultimately understand how the present is informed by the actions and decisions of the past, and that how we live now will determine the outcomes of the future. Our curriculum aims to ensure that all of our pupils feel reflected and included in our history curriculum and feel a sense of belonging and identity in the UK.
Fundamental to the teaching and learning of history is the attainment of key historical knowledge and a secure understanding of chronology. Underpinned by the objectives and outcomes of the National Curriculum, history is planned alongside our progression of knowledge and skills document.
Across the phases, our children study history in half-term blocks. We approach lessons creatively, ensuring the children not only build upon their historical knowledge, but are given the opportunity to make connections and develop their skills through analysis. Sequences of learning ensure that each lesson builds upon the last.
Key threads reoccur across our coverage of history including Society, Peace and Conflict, Migration and Settlement. These weave through our different topics and areas of study. To complement the history curriculum, key texts are frequently used in English to provide context and enhance the historical period being explored.
The Early Years Foundation Stage follows the ‘Development Matters in the EYFS’ guidance, which states that all children should have an ‘Understanding of the World; people and communities, the world and technology’ by the time that they leave reception. Topics have been selected to include historical themes and provide a foundation for later historical learning. Children are provided with opportunities to explore artefacts from the past, read books and learn stories from history and interact with ‘long standing’ members of the community.
We strive to find every opportunity to continue our learning outside of the classroom, drawing on the wealth of historical trip opportunities we have here in London. This includes ensuring visits to historical sites, museums and specialist visits. An extra-curricular ‘time travellers’ history club runs throughout the spring term for children who want to further pursue their passion for history.
At Bessemer, we measure progress by assessing the advancement of knowledge and skills; of each child’s developing ability to discuss history and historical concepts, identify links, influences or processes of change and to compare and contrast.
Opportunities for frequent oral and written recall of learned knowledge happen throughout each unit. Practical and creative learning leads to a written outcome, which assesses children’s understanding, progress of knowledge and concepts covered.
We want children to approach learning from a critical viewpoint and be given opportunities to empathise. This will enable them to understand the different individuals and groups of people who experience historical periods in markedly different ways. Whether it be through history, geography, science or art, class or school assemblies, celebrations, days of remembrance; history is woven into every facet of our learning and recognised as a very real part of not only who we are, but where we are going.
Websites that you can look at to further explore more history!
British History Videos: